Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Short Cuts take too long

The shortest cut from A to B for me is invariably via C, D and E as well.
I actually went from Calcutta to Delhi once via Hyderabad, which meant that I was actually flying South, when I wanted to fly North. But the fare was so tempting. Of course, I spent a good many hours more, including one hour at the Hyderabad airport, stuck in the plane.

So, it is my long-term opinion that short cuts are not worth taking. I will teach my sons this. There is no short way out – you’ve got to study for the tests. Sleeping with the book under your head will not transfer the material magically to your brain in the night. I’ve tried it. Transfer Failure. Translated further into Test Failure too.

D’you know, there is no short cut in life, Nikash, I said to him this morning on our way to play school.
I no know, said Nikash, which is his standard reply to anything asked from complex philosophical phenomenon to What will you eat for Dinner?
There is no short cut, I repeat. And then I see before me a humungous pile-up of cars at a stubbornly red signal. And equally suddenly, I see the back lane that turns off to the left, and I swing the car over to the lane. It seems empty. Of course it is. It is a dead-end. Aaaah – so I turn back and take the next lane, which turns out to be a one-way, with a rather unsympathetic cop at the end. I turn back and get stuck, (now with a 100 buck fine too, in my hand) in the first humungous traffic pile-up, which has become even more humungous during my antics.
Why didn’t you remind me, Nikash, that there are no short cuts if life? I ask him.
I no know, he replies.

But I dream of the day when there will be tailor-made short cuts. Like 1 switch will replace the 1 hour that it takes to get 1 dosa down Nikash’s mouth. Or 1 button which will cook a 3-course-meal. Or 1 phone call which will get a 3-year-degree without studying for it. Hey, hang on – that’s possible. In Bihar, at least it was.

That brings me to the fact that everyone else seems to know how to take these short cuts and win. The auto-driver zooms past on the wrong side of the road, and makes it past the signal in time. A pushy mom pushes her pushy kid right up to the bank counter, while I wait in the never-moving queue. And all my landlord’s sons in Bihar became doctors while they just lay on their cots the whole day and chewed cud.

That’s ok. See – there are some things you gotta do just because they are right. I tell my little boy while bringing him home. Cheaters never prosper. It’s better to do things the long way and to do them right.
I know, says Nikash.
I turn to him with surprise, then give him a hug, while the light turns green, and the other cars whizz past.


  1. :D :D :D
    i know now :) i am afraid nikash is going to be a great philospher some day :)

  2. You're doing the right thing teaching her the right thing.

  3. Your writing is very much like the articles of Ed and Mary Roach. Have you read any of those? And may be you too could become a best-selling author. I'll buy.

  4. You grew up in Bihar? Explains a lot ! :O

  5. Short cuts work very seldom and in the process one might cut short one's life too!

  6. there's a ton of shortcuts that i take all the time. there's the most basic concept of the universal remote - one remote to rule them all. i spend hours trying to program it to work across tv, dvd, stereo and all, and haven't made it yet. and then there's the concept of convergence - one media device to rule them all. and i spent hours getting an old laptop connected to tv, home theater and internet so i could watch youtube on big screen, and use an old pda as a remote touchpad to move the cursor around with bluetooth. you can guess how successful that shortcut has been.

    there is no one thing to rule all things. but you can have the time of your life trying.

  7. Sleeping with the book under your head will not transfer the material magically to your brain in the night. ( I have done this too for my chem paper... I got 1 on 30) lol

    My lil niece also says "i no know" sounds cute and I hate to correct her.